The power of denial is an incredible thing. Watch any news broadcast from the States as grown men and women worship at the feet of Trump to see what I mean. People can look at something that is blatantly, 100% wrong but if admitting that – or perhaps accepting that – challenges even one of their own preconceptions, they will embrace the lie instead.
For years, this board has gotten away with believing that it is right in all things. This is what happens when you surround yourself with a bunch of yes men and rule by patronage. You do not get the guy in the room who tells you when you’re blowing it. This is why dictatorships – whether in politics or business or elsewhere – utterly fail.
There’s a great line in the movie Nuremberg, starring Brian Cox as Herman Goering. His interrogator asks how intelligent men such as the defendants can ever have followed a man like Adolf Hitler. He looks at the guy as if he’s crazy.
“What do you see?” he asks. “When you look in all these cells, what do you see? A parade of ‘yes’ men. All the ‘no’ men are six feet underground.”
And that’s how you get a man like Putin able to launch a war which every person in the upper echelon of his country must have known was madness. But nobody put a stop to it, nobody spoke up and said “please don’t do this” although it was self-evident that the end result would be exactly the thing he was trying to avoid; more NATO countries on his doorstep.
Finland, Sweden, all those Eastern European states half in and half out of the alliance, suddenly all singing from the same song sheet. In addition, global sanctions and his own private Afghanistan.
What a disaster. And all predictable before the first soldier crossed the border.
You surround yourself with people who are too scared to tell you the facts, or who are ambitious enough to tell you what you want to hear, all the better to stay one step ahead. This board has never understood why some of us don’t worship at their feet. After all, hasn’t “the strategy” brought us domestic success like never before?
Yes, but we’re going up against teams with one tenth of our budget, all but one club and that club is a shambling, stumbling ruin, a shadow of the one it pretends to be, perhaps not realising that the club it pretends to be was only playing pretend all along. They too were more a shadow on the wall than the real thing, and that’s why they ended up ruined and broke.
It is hard to gauge how well these guys have really done when all around you is a desperate mess. But we can look at our performances in Europe on a par with those clubs of similar budgets and what we see there is how big a disgrace these people really are. This policy of asset stripping the team every year means there will never be any improvement. It means that the whole idea of getting better, and getting stronger, is an impossibility.
If these people believed they could keep the guts of this squad, the best players in it, together for the next five years they’d have a collective heart attack because that’s not in their thinking at all. This club long ago gave up even trying to be as good as it could be. As long as it stays one step ahead of Ibrox that’s good enough for these people. That’s all they want.
They don’t understand why that’s not enough. Why some of us want more. There’s a section of our support which is satisfied with that, and those people are entitled to hold their view. But some of us dream of bigger and better things. Some of us want to see this team at least reach for the next rung on the ladder and under these guys we will never do that.
What bothers some of us most are two things.
The road not taken and the internal processes which frankly leave me feeling a bit sick. The road not taken is easy enough to understand; this club has failed lamentably to reform the governing bodies and to improve our game. Domestic financial fair play would have changed the game here forever. Refereeing reform would have made it clean. We could have fought the good fight and come out stronger for it, and we never have and under these folk we never will.
We allowed one Ibrox club to cheat us. We’ve allowed the second one to financially dope itself to the gills, on God alone knows what sort of external financing and sleight of hand. We didn’t even get the justice we deserved for the sins of Rangers, a disgrace which all the men on our board will take to their graves with them. That’s their legacy.
The internal workings of this club are a flat-out scandal.
Nepotism and cronyism are the order of the day. Internal appointments. Family members put in positions of immense responsibility. We scorned the Kelly’s and the White’s for good reason. This is Celtic, it belongs to us, it’s not the plaything of the Desmond and Lawwell families and that I have to point out how basically corrupt that is astonishes me.
This is how empires fall. This is how businesses and governments collapse.
A tiny group of people, insulated and isolated from any opinion but their own, with the arrogance to think they’ve seen it all before and thus know all the answers. In a real crisis though, these people flap and falter and fold, and we know that because we saw it when it came time to sack Lennon. Everyone knew what had to be done, and some of them dug their heels in out of ego and others did it because they’ve didn’t have a clue what to do next. That’s the truth of it.
History is written by the winners, so says the accepted wisdom, and these people believe that they will have the last word, that they will be hailed in the future as the grand strategists when in fact we know they don’t have a strategy to speak of.
You know what though? Here’s some home truth for them.
History is going to be written by the bloggers, and we’re going to have a slightly different take on these people than presently exists. It’s our verdict history will record and remember, because sure as Hell, nobody in the mainstream media is going to write their version of this, or talk about how brilliant these “custodians” of ours are.
Right now, every single one of those people is telling this board that they have gotten this window staggeringly wrong. That the policy is staggering wrong. Almost every Celtic fan site is telling them that they have this staggeringly wrong. Brendan Rodgers, who stupidly, foolishly, signed up for it now realises that it is going staggeringly wrong.
I defended that policy on the basis that it served the needs of the manager.
But it doesn’t. You only have to look at the scattershot way they’ve gone about this, and that we’re closing in on the last day again and fumbling about trying to get stuff done is a joke.
We’re heading into Ibrox without being able to integrate any new signings. We’re already out of one competiion and that’s not new … usually its the Champions League we’re out of as a result of this lamentable flapping about.
The minute Brendan Rodgers said that he would work with what they gave him the utter senselessness of it all became readily apparent. They don’t know and they don’t care what he needs.
None of them is remotely qualified to build a squad or develop a team or change a tactic or set a formation, so why in God’s name do they think they should be deciding what players the manager gets? This is mind-blowing conceit.
The policy is only worth something if it serves the manager, otherwise it’s a bunch of bean-counters playing out some Moneyball fantasy with our club. The signings in this window do not follow any logic or pattern; it’s throwing guys at the manager and saying “see what you can do with them” rather than having him tell them what he requires and them going out and getting it for him. This is the exact opposite of what the policy should be.
Even now, with just about everyone in our support on edge as we approach the window, I see no signs whatsoever that we’re going to get anything like what we want. People are talking about five signings; I think we’ll be lucky to secure three, and at least one of them will be a short-term loan. And in the aftermath we’ll hear a lot of excuses about how tough the market is, and about how much work was done behind the scenes and the ones who got away … blah blah blah.
And we will hear, no doubt, about how the manager actually got seven or eight players, and it’ll not even bother them or those making the case for them that he won’t use much more than three or four of them on a regular basis.
His own ideas don’t count for anything. His own views on this squad don’t matter at all, even if most of us agree with them, even if they leave us shockingly vulnerable on the big stage of the Champions League, which I don’t even want to think about.
Lawwell and his wee cohort will head off to the draw on Thursday, where he will bask in the reflected glory of what the last manager achieved, and he will strut and preen and tell himself that our “well run club” and our “strategy” is envied and admired by everyone else in the room … and that may well be the case but here’s what he won’t allow himself to ponder, because it really will mess with his internal belief system and challenge his perceptions, and as I said people would rather live in denial and embrace outright lies than have that challenged.
Here’s what no-one will say to him, but everyone understands; every single one of them would love to get Celtic in the draw. Because we might be seen as “well run” but we’re also seen as an easy three points, we’re seen as weak, because we’re a shadow of the club these people took over, when we still took ourselves seriously.
And it has been a long time since Celtic, under Desmond and Lawwell, actually did that.